Tag Archives: Rabindranath Tagore

Thoughts on Love on a Grey Calcutta Morning

By Devjani Bodepudi

“When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth……

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.”

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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When I was about thirteen, I came across these beautiful lines in a poetry anthology I was given at school to study. I was in love then, so I memorised the lines then, not knowing what they meant. I only knew they were beautiful and talked of love being vast and holier than anything that I had known before.

There is so much love inside us all. The love in me is destructive sometimes. It comes out with a fierce desire to protect and as a result it may destroy. I’m thwarted at every turn because the ones I love will make the choices that they must. I describe it as shouting at a soap character on screen, willing them to make the right choice but they can’t hear me. The script must play out, the show will go on, and in the end, the hero will be heartbroken. There is simply nothing I can do.

The love here, in Calcutta seems magnified. Everyone loves to extremes. It’s like watching a strip of magnesium burn brighter than the sun only to be left with the remnants of a memory. It is a starburst in the darkness and clinical correctness of a laboratory.  I think everyone here is chasing that starburst, that momentary elusiveness of wonder and lust.

I’ve heard stories of couples who have been married for years, have children, respectable positions in society, just let it all fall away because they’ve ‘fallen in love’. It happens everywhere, I suppose, perhaps more so in the West. People get divorced all the time. But somehow, it feels like it’s been sought out here, deliberately. It’s necessary because the poets have written about it for centuries. We’ve taken Romeo and Juliet to heart and Tagore’s heroes and heroines must befall heartache and tragedy, as it is the only way to love. Despair is a prerequisite to happiness and truth, it seems.

Growing up and in my teens we were exposed to the story of Sarat Chandra’s Devdas, in all his cinematic glory. That tragic drunk, inebriated with his own sorrow, the courtesan, made transcendent through her grief, the simple girl next door, within reach but tainted through poverty. As Indians, I think we’ve come to worship such love, but I was able to move on thankfully. I think it’s like dancing in the rain; there is pure joy in drowning in the tears of the gods. To fully experience love, one must drown in it first. One must first be left bereft of hope until an angel appears and lifts you up and whispers in your ear, “you will love again and this time it will be for an eternity.”

But what is Love? I did not know what it was until it filled me up with contentedness and content. It is that which stopped still the longing and searching and swallowed the void until light poured forth from every pore. Every droplet of self was wrung from my being until there was only elation.

Love asks of nothing. It is whole. It will be you, who will give, willingly, as you are nourished with its enduring strength and its midday warmth.

I suppose we must all learn the ways of heartbreak and rejection first, like rights of passage. Perhaps our hearts need to be broken and set in the form of the perfect vessel to allow Love to enter. I wish I knew.

All I know is that I am blessed with Love. I pray that those whom I love, will find it too, that many-coloured bird that sings of joy and strength and patience and peace.

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You Can’t Exist. It Offends ‘Us’

By Ankit Chandra

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In the news today, among other more immediately critical things, is this news about a paintings exhibition in Bangalore (http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/in-bangalore-moral-policing-means-three-paintings-face-the-wall-326900?pfrom=home-otherstories).

What’s the big deal about a paintings exhibition? Isn’t it just about some people only putting their expressions on to some canvas? who has time for that right? To be quite honest, I think it would be a big deal when a painting exhibition was actually not a big deal. Sadly, we are not there yet.

So what happened was that in this paintings exhibition, there were some paintings showing a few Hindu Goddesses in the nude. A local BJP ‘leader’ walks in and sees these paintings and flips out. He ensures that those paintings be put inside out, so that no one can see them. He said “I have reported to chief coordinator of Chitrakala Parishat saying you people should not show like this, Hindu gods and all. We have our own belief, we have our own culture…”

When I read this, I had a mixture of feelings inside me. Besides the obvious questions like ‘who the hell is he to be the representative of Hinduism’ (I am sure Lord Ram didn’t send him an appointment letter, because I think God likes me more than this BJP leader), I was more anxious because I see a special type of slow rape and murder happening here. That of freedom. Not only of speech, but to exist freely. Given that this rape of freedom a slow process, I am sure the government wouldn’t care to fix this, as this doesn’t affect the elections in 2014, or the local Karanataka elections, whenever they are held.

This is an urgent problem. Not only in Karnataka, but in Tamil Nadu with Viswaroopam, or with the late M.F. Hussain, or with the painters in Ahmedabad whose exhibition was vandalized, or with Deepa Mehta for making Water. The list goes on. And this list scratches our faces with its iron finger nails telling us that you must live in servitude of those who can walk over you whenever they feel like.

Anyway, back to the news. The father of the painter issued a statement: “There is absolutely nothing objectionable in his paintings. If that is so, then all temples should be destroyed.” After reading this statement, I had another mixture of feelings ride inside me. One of which was that of desperation. You see, in the older times people seemed to have more freedom of expression. They ‘could’ sculpt Hindu Goddesses in the nude. And those sculptures were integrated into temples. In 2013, we have regressed to a time even before them. Maybe stone ages where the whims of a petty local politician were taken to be a decree more critical than the dreams of Rabindranath Tagore.

Of course we could not have one more than one Nobel in literature. For that, we’d need to coexist in this century first…

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Tagore, the Painter

Most of us knows about Tagore, the poet, the novelist, the song writer. But did you know that this Nobel Laureate was also a painter! Sampurna Majumder acquaints us with Tagore, the painter. 

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We all are aware of the great literary figure Rabindranath Tagore. Yes, he was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and his composed verse ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was adopted as the country’s national anthem.

Though known to the world as renowned poet, versatility was his middle name. He was a poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher, social reformer, musician and also an artist. Egged by an insatiable urge for creativity, Tagore took up the brush when he was around 65. In his own words, “Now in the evening of my life, my mind is filled with forms and colours.” He often perceived this passion as an affair in the evening of his life.

Tagore delved into this passion in 1926 and such a prolific painter he turned out to be, that within four years he held nine painting exhibition across Europe, and also in Boston and New York.

tagore's paintingWhat sets him apart as a painter is the sheer forms within vast canvases of formlessness. His paintings transcend all known canons of art and some of his early compositions comprise doodles of thoughts. Some of these tend to resemble birds, faces and sometimes monsters.

In his subsequent compositions, human figures usually vertically positioned can be spotted. The main focus happened to be human faces upholding various facial expressions such as anger, disgust, laughter and so on. In his series titled ‘Heads’ female figures appear more often.

Pen-and-ink constituted many of his works. Some of best paintings are but doodles in pen-and-ink exhibiting his mastery over pen and ink.

Tagores-ArtTagore later shifted focus to landscape and colours became an important constituent of them. Silhouetted trees placed against the bright sky and absence of human figures became some of the major highlights of landscape paintings. Reddish, yellowish and brownish hues are prominent and the absence of human figures adds an element of mysteriousness to the paintings. He never made preparatory sketches; the images simply flowed through on canvas or paper.

The total oeuvre of 3000 paintings, composed between 1926 and 1940 trace the extraordinary talent of the genius Rabindranath Tagore.